W. Wallace Kent

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William Wallace Kent (May 1, 1916 - May 28, 1973) was born in Galesburg, Michigan the son of Harold S. Kent and Alice W. Kent. He graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School in 1933. In 1937 he received an A. B. degree from Western Michigan University. He obtained his legal education at the University of Michigan Law School where he was an editor of the Michigan Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif. He graduated with honors with a J.D. degree in 1940.

He served as an assistant Kalamazoo County prosecutor and Friend of the Court from 1941 until 1944. He then entered the law firm of Mason, Stratton and Kent in Kalamazoo. On February 2, 1945 he was appointed County Prosecutor to fulfill an unexpired term but returned to his private practice in 1946. Kent was appointed to the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on July 1, 1954. He became Chief Judge of the Court in 1961 and had offices in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Marquette. Kent was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on December 18, 1970 by President Richard Nixon and was sworn in on January 6, 1971.

Judge Kent was very active in Masonic bodies. In 1960 he served as the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of F. & A.M. of Michigan, the highest Masonic office in Michigan. He served from 1961 to 1971 as Grand Treasurer for that Lodge. In 1962 he was created a Sovereign Grand Inspector General 33d degree of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry and in 1967 was crowned an Active Member of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite.

Kent was active in community affairs devoting many hours of service to the Community Chest, the Boy Scouts, the Family Service Center, and the Legal Aid Bureau. He was an active member of the Episcopal Church, Torch Club and Outlook Club.

Kent was married in 1940 to LaVerne Fredlund and they had six children, three sons and three daughters.

On May 28, 1973, he suffered a heart attack at his home in Kalamazoo and died three hours later at Bronson Methodist Hospital at the age of 57.

Significant cases[edit]

  • Bradley v. Milliken, 484 F.2d 215 (6th Cir. 1973), rev'd sub nom Milliken v. Bradley, 418 U.S. 717 (1974), was a school busing case. Judge Kent wrote a partial dissent, the reasoning of which was adopted by the Supreme Court in overruling the Sixth Circuit holding.


Legal offices
Preceded by
new seat
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan
Succeeded by
Albert J. Engel, Jr.
Preceded by
Bert T. Combs
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Succeeded by
Albert J. Engel, Jr.